Plumber denies making £180,000 in huge eBay con

Ashley Turner at Portsmouth Crown Court
Ashley Turner at Portsmouth Crown Court

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AN APPRENTICE plumber made almost £180,000 in a massive eBay scam, a court heard.

Ashley Turner, 28, is accused of selling stolen cameras, sat navs, MP3 players and laptops through the online auction site. Over three years police believe Turner made £178,580 from the racket.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard Turner, of Warnford Crescent, Leigh Park, was a modern day Fagin, part of a UK-wide network of criminals selling high value stolen electrical goods online.

Between October 2007 and March 2010 he sold 591 items online.

Prosecutor Tim Moores told the court the goods were being stolen from stores by ‘professional shoplifters’.

He said: ‘The thief needs a way of passing on these goods and getting money for them.

‘They need what’s traditionally called a handler. You will be familiar with story of Oliver Twist and Fagin – he is a Victorian handler.

‘Bill Sykes would bring back the goods and Fagin would move them on through his contacts.

‘One of the modes of choice to handlers nowadays is the biggest marketplace in the world, eBay.

‘It makes it very easy to pass on a large amount of stolen goods without the problem of having to meet in dingy pubs or alleyways for people to buy them.’

The court heard Turner made regular large deposits into his bank account from his account with Paypal – a secure web payment service – despite having no regular income.

Mr Moores said Turner was out on the morning his home was raided by police.

When he discovered police were at the address he said Turner panicked and dumped laptops, iPods, sat navs and camera lenses at his girlfriend’s home in Blackthorn Road, Hayling Island. The stash was later discovered by police.

The laptops were found to have previously had the type of locks used for security in shops on them.

Mr Moores said: ‘That should, at the very least, have made Mr Turner suspicious that the items were stolen and we say it is self evident that at the very least he would have suspected they were stolen even if he had not been told where they had been taken from’.

Turner denies knowing that any of the goods he handled were stolen.

When Mr Moores suggested that it must have clicked that something was wrong Turner replied: ‘No, definitely not.’

Giving evidence Turner said he initially refused to name anyone he received the goods from during interview because he didn’t want to be seen as a ‘grass.’

Turner added: ‘I’m not that type of person. I’m not a grass.’

Turner denies one count of converting criminal property, to the value of £178,580, sold on eBay knowing, or suspecting, it to represent either whole or in part the proceeds of criminal conduct between October 8, 2007 and March 9, 2010.